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Madame Loisel is not satisfied with her life, because although she is a beauty, she wants to be rich. Her husband gets invited to a party, and she will not go until she gets a new dress and borrows a fancy jewel from her wealthier friend.
Mathilde Loisel was born “into a family of clerks,” and since she had not dowry and could not marry rich, she had to marry a lowly clerk. Even though this made her comfortable, it did not make her wealthy and respectable. Her husband wasn’t a “rich and distinguished man” who could shower her with jewels. You would think, never having known anything different, that Mathilde would be satisfied. No such luck.
She dressed plainly because she could not dress well, but she was unhappy as if she had really fallen from a higher station; since with women there is neither caste nor rank, for beauty, grace and charm take the place of family and birth.
Apparently being beautiful made her deserve to dress better and be taken care of. Her looks might have made her conceited.
A perfect example of Mathilde’s conceit and arrogance comes when she goes to borrow a necklace from Madame Loisel. She is not even happy with most of Madame Loisel’s jewls.
She tried on the ornaments before the mirror, hesitated and could not make up her mind …
"Haven't you any more?"
"Why, yes. Look further; I don't know what you like."
Suddenly she discovered … a superb diamond necklace, and her heart throbbed with an immoderate desire.
Nothing is good enough, even these luxurious jewels that are all worth more than she can afford. What is ironic is that she moves past the real things and chooses something that looks good but is fake (not that she knows it is fake). She chooses what she thinks will impress everyone the most.
The feeling that she deserves more is only reinforced at the party when she gets a lot of attention. When it is time to leave, she is frustrated again.
He threw over her shoulders the wraps he had brought, the modest wraps of common life, the poverty of which contrasted with the elegance of the ball dress. She felt this and wished to escape so as not to be remarked by the other women, who were enveloping themselves in costly furs.
She does not want to kill the illusion, and remember who she really is. Of course she can’t afford a fur. She is not really the belle of the ball. Like the fake necklace, it is something fake pretending to be real. The dance is a glimpse at a life she wants, but cannot have.
She could be satisfied with the life she lives, and her beauty, but she isn’t. So she loses everything because she tries to be what she is not. She does not tell the truth about the necklace, and has to borrow money to pay back a real necklace instead of a fake one. In paying it back, she loses the one wealth she did have: her beauty.
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